The ignorance and arrogance of religious people (and with that I usually mean “Christians” because I live in a country where Christianity is the predominant religion) never ceases to both amaze and repulse me.
I know the need to believe in a god and/or creator is a powerful one for a lot of people and often hard to resist; existential uncertainty can be terrifying and the idea of a daddy-figure who watches over you and takes care of you and makes it all ok – be it now or later in the “afterlife” – is a powerful, reassuring and calming notion.
And isn’t that what religion ultimately is, an emotional pacifier enabling people to derive meaning from their otherwise seemingly arbitrary existence in an uncertain world at best and a tool to control, sway and subjugate the masses, at worst? As Karl Marx once said, religion is the opiate of the masses. It is “excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet [and what] keeps the poor from murdering the rich” Napoleon once remarked.
So I get it, religion is useful for both those who have a seemingly innate need to believe and cannot fathom existence without a god and creator as well as for those who have understood how religion works and who subsequently have been exploiting that need to believe in order to push their own – often sinister – agenda of control and subjugation in the name of god and holy entities.
So I certainly do understand the psychological need for religion and god but what I will never understand is how this need can be so strong that it subdues rationality, common sense and deductive reasoning leading to willful ignorance and right-out idiocy and callousness, which is so emblematic of religion and its followers.
Case in point, Matthew McConaughey and his best actor Oscar acceptance speech which he began by thanking and praising “god” for giving him “opportunities that are not of my hand or of any other human hand.” Religious conservatives cheered his acceptance speech as a brave strike against Hollywood’s pervasive secular bias, claiming that the Oscar crowd was “rattled” and “quieted” by McConaughey’s praise for the lord.
The truth of religion and god aside, it seems moronic, not to mention deeply arrogant and right out callous, for anyone to believe that an all powerful, benevolent supernatural being that allegedly created the entire universe with its billions of galaxies and trillions of stars and solar systems would care about the career and work of privileged thespians.
One would think “god” would have more important issues of life, death and suffering to contend with than being bothered about the career of athletes and Oscar trophies for millionaires.
Of course, when a non-religious person points out that these notions are facile at best and demeaning at worst, they risk being condemned as “strident,” “mean” and “haters” or at least disrespectful of religious sensibilities. However, since religious supremacy is the dominant paradigm in our society, and since atheists, according to a recent study done by a group of psychologists in the U.S. and Canada, are the least trusted of all listed categories aside from rapists, our society is skewed favorably towards religion and quite unfavorably towards critics of religion.
The emotional pull of our tribal identity almost always trumps our capacity to actually weigh the evidence, which is why facts, and deductive reasoning play such a tragically small role in everyday decision making by law-makers and the institutions of our society and thus are viewed with so much suspicion, leading to the kind of ignorant, blind, self-righteousness as exhibited by Matthew McConaughey and athletes in post-game interviews who seriously believe that it is absolutely plausible and reasonable to believe that an invisible deity who creates whole universes is also endlessly interested in their personal thoughts and successes and award-status.
Why is that a problem, you ask? Why not let McConaughey thank whomever and whatever he wants, be it god, trolls or hobbits? Because not criticizing ignorance to this extent and thus religious people, gives credence to their ignorant notions, aiding in their perpetuation with respect to all aspects of society and legislation. As long as we care more about catering to the religious and their sensibilities than we do about encouraging the open questioning of the claims of the faithful – claims that are, more often than not, detrimental, dehumanizing and harmful to people and society overall, religious supremacy will continue fucking it up for the rest of us.
As Dante once said, the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of moral crisis remain neutral.